Du Bois on Communism

I typed this out a week ago on Facebook and it was shared nearly 200 times on the first day. This, I think, indicates that the time is very much ripe…


“I have studied socialism and communism long and carefully in lands where they are practiced and in conversation with their adherents, and with wide reading. I now state my conclusion frankly and clearly: I believe in communism. I mean by communism, a planned way of life in the production of wealth and work designed for building a state whose object is the highest welfare of its people and not merely the profit of a part. I believe that all men should be employed according to their ability and that wealth and services should be distributed according to need. Once I thought that these ends could be attained under capitalism, means of production privately owned, and used in accord with free individual initiative. After earnest observation I now believe that private ownership of capital and free enterprise are leading the world to disaster. I do not believe that so-called “people’s capitalism” has in the United States or anywhere replaced the ills of private capitalism and shown an answer to socialism. The corporation is but the legal mask behind which the individual owner of wealth hides. Democratic government in the United States has almost ceased to junction. A fourth of the adults are disfranchised, half the legal voters do not go to the polls. We are ruled by those who control wealth and who by that power buy or coerce public opinion.

I resent the charge that communism is a conspiracy: Communists often conspire as do capitalists. But it is false that all Communists are criminals and that communism speaks and exists mainly by means of force and fraud. I shall therefore hereafter help the triumph of commimism in every honest way that I can: without deceit or hurt; and in anyway possible, without war; and with goodwill to all men of all colors, classes and creeds. If, because of this belief and such action, I become the victim of attack and calumny, I will react in the way that seems to me best for the world in which I live and which I have tried earnestly to serve. I know well that the triumph of communism will be a slow and difficult task, involving mistakes of every sort. It will call for progressive change in human nature and a better type of manhood than is common today. I believe this possible, or otherwise we will continue to lie, steal and kill as we are doing today.

Who now am I to have come to these conclusions? And of what if any significance are my deductions? What has been my life and work and of what meaning to mankind? The final answer to these questions, time and posterity must make. But perhaps it is my duty to contribute whatever enlightenment I can” (Du Bois 1968: 57-8)

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